Search platform companies continue to step up an entrance into Japan to support the local market. In the past month, Kenshoo launched Kenshoo Portfolio Optimizer. Then Marin Software opened an office, signing a deal with Criteo that allows their mutual local clients to use Marin Retargeting.
Late last month, Paris-based Criteo closed an approximate $40 million series D funding led by SoftBank to support building out its platform and international expansion. The company serves about 3,000 advertisers in 32 countries -- Japan now one of them -- but the U.S. generates the most revenue.
Criteo recently announced an exclusive partnership with Yahoo Japan to support cost-per-click display advertising, making it the first time a third-party technology company gained access to the engine's ad inventory.
Matt Lawson, VP of marketing at Marin, said the most "glaring and obvious" difference between the U.S. and Japanese market is that Google isn't the dominant search engine -- Yahoo holds the dominant search engine market share in Japan. "Yahoo Japan has been one of the most popular engines in the country," he said.
GroupM estimates $3.1 billion in search ad spend this year, rising to $3.3 billion in 2013. PricewaterhouseCoopers in June forecast spend a bit higher with $4.3 billion and $4.6 billion, respectively, rising to $5.2 billion in 2015.
Calling it a "unique market," Kenshoo CMO Aaron Goldman sees growth in Japan. "We had to create a separate bid optimizer for Japan because the algorithms are different from those used with U.S. engines," he said.
Earlier this week at the Intel Global Summit, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell provided his perspective on the world economy, suggesting the Japanese and the Chinese banking systems improved a bit and some "evil days have been postponed."